As I was reading the Psalms the other day, Psalm 100 stood out to me:
A Psalm of praise.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
A joyful noise of praise, a song of gladness…not a mournful, sad, melancholy one. I recently heard that some congregations take Psalms like this to say we should refuse to have minor, or melancholy music in praise to the LORD. Of course other Psalms talk about how terrible God is, and the things He does or will do to His enemies. If we were to just take just Psalm 100, and apply the I-don’t-read-the-rest-of-scripture rule, we would have to rule out the following well-known and very good hymns:
What Child Is This? O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, O The Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus, Once To Every Man and Nation, I’m Just A Poor, Wayfaring Stranger, and Flee As A Bird To Your Mountain, to name just a few!
Or what of a sad words?
Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? Man Of Sorrows, What a Name! When I Survey The Wondrous Cross! Up Calvary’s Mountain, and Abide With Me would be outlawed.
I don’t know about you, but I am not going to throw out these hymns and the hundreds of others that have melodies appropriate to their words.
This Psalm says to me, that we should thank the LORD for His truth, and everlasting mercy, with a glad song of joy. It is a song of praise to our LORD for the greatness of His mercy, not an instructional command that we can never have music appropriate to the words we are singing. In fact, it is the opposite! It is an example of music appropriate to the words: I noticed it did not say, come before the LORD with a sad song of mournfulness for His great mercy and truth. That would have been inappropriate because it goes against nature! The laws of nature which our incredible GOD has so intricately set up include things like music: We know by our spirit, what music is appropriate for the moment.
That being said, could it be true that there is some music, while never appropriate for use of praise to the Holy God, (whose name is Prince of Peace, and who dwells in Holiness and whose Majesty fills the earth and heaven), is appropriate for other things?
Are lullabies appropriate praise to God? How about Opera? What about Military March music? Or Ragtime? Or Love Songs (between man and woman)? or Rock and Roll, or Rap? What about the song of a newborn believer that knows no other kind? Maybe a native somewhere is beating his drum in praise to God who has done great things for him. Is that sinful? I’m not saying we ought to excuse music that is definitely demonic, rather, let the Spirit of God guide you in your praise to God, and while speaking the truth in love, don’t be too hard on those who have not yet received the measure of grace which you have.
It may be that all of these in some way bring praise to the LORD. I am not qualified to make that statement with authority, but I believe it’s certainly possible!
One other thing written in the Psalms comes to mind as I wrap this up. Psalm 66:1-2 tells the reader, “Make a joyful noise unto God all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.”
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” -Colossians 3:15
This much we know we should do!